Tips on minimizing withdrawal symptoms from Effexor (aka Venlafaxine)

Posted by richyrich @richyrich, Nov 2, 2016

I have been taking Effexor/Venlafaxine for years and tried to get off it a few times but each time I try to give up the chemical withdrawal symptoms are a horror story and I give up giving up. Anyone got any tips or tried and tested strategies? Thank you

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@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

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It sure is one heck of a nasty drug there Cherylann. I’m going on 7 weeks of being off it and I do have both good and bad days. Hopefully they will be all good soon. Take care. And think positive.

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@tshere95

So much for no withdrawal symptoms. My head is spinning. This is horrible. Does anybody know where to get decent CBD oil cheap? The ones I've found are so expensive.

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OK sent for some cbd in coconut oil…. Today I tried meclazine hoping to lessen the dizziness/vertigo. I think it did!!!

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@shaker1956

Hi Jake. Lucky me???? Lol. The only med I presently take is Lipitor for high cholestorol. Only 10 mg’s. Man I sure feel off today. Head feel spaced out and stomach is upset. Guess its just one of them days. Had a crappy sleep last nite too which seems to be the norm these days. Took a 25 mg Benadryl to help with sleep but guess that didnt work. Have a great day.

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Hey Jake. Not sure about that. My Dr tells me I have either. New Dr that is. She says I may have social anxiety. I dont get out of the house enough. So I plan on doing more of that. I will try and get out daily. These side effects can be almost crippling. I have had anxious moments. A result of thinking stuff like will this get better. I have gotten some CBT oil capsules today. They are supposed to help a lot with the zaps and anxiety. I have been doing a lot of reading also. Just hoping and looking forward to feeling normal again. Take care. And keep ur diploma. Lol.

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@shaker1956

Hi Jake. Lucky me???? Lol. The only med I presently take is Lipitor for high cholestorol. Only 10 mg’s. Man I sure feel off today. Head feel spaced out and stomach is upset. Guess its just one of them days. Had a crappy sleep last nite too which seems to be the norm these days. Took a 25 mg Benadryl to help with sleep but guess that didnt work. Have a great day.

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jake. I’m also going through the gammit of withdrawal symptoms. Right now its flu like feelings. My sleep patterns are horrible. The zaps arent as bad as they were but are still there. Even had some weird feelings in my hands but it doesnt last long. So lets just hope its withdrawal and nothing else. Have a great evening

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@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

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Hi @dbrown72, hoping this gets to you. I'm doing the same exact process right now – trying (struggling) to switch from effexor to Trintellix. I feel horrible. I am on edge and have cried more in the past two days than the previous year. I'm being brought down in effexor (now it's from 75 to 37.5) and up in Trintellix (from 10mg to 20mg). I'm feeling so much anxiety and stress right now and it's only been three days. How long did you experience the withdrawal?

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@coloradogirl

So, I just finished this process with Zoloft (sertraline) and here are some things that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but hopefully these are low risk for you to try.

1) You may need to ask your doctor for a slower tapering program than other patients. Some people are just more sensitive to dosage changes. Be aware that symptoms will get better, then may reappear each time you taper. AAFMA (practice group of family physicians) says that the symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks and as long as 4 weeks, so I just kept reminding myself that it was temporary.
2) Be watchful for things that make your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine seems to trigger the brain zaps for me (still, even after being off for several weeks), so I cut back my caffeine intake. I didn’t give it up completely (because I still need to function), but cut back on how much real coffee I was drinking, mixed decaf with regular, and switched to tea sometimes. In the end, I probably cut my daily caffeine intake in half, and it did help quite a lot.
3) Ibuprofen or other pain reliever can help with the flu-like body aches.
4) Benadryl helped with the brain zaps.
5) Exercise helped with both. Even if I wasn’t up to a run, a few blocks of walking would settle down the symptoms for a while at least. (Then, when they come back, just take another walk. We took a lot of walks for a while there).
6) Get enough sleep. As I came down off the meds, my normal sleeping patterns returned, which was great, but it did mean that I needed to plan time to let my body rest.
7) Pay attention to your diet. Your brain uses carbs to make seratonin, so now is not the time to go on the Atkins diet. Eat well and make sure you’re getting enough healthy carbs. You may crave sweets; I certainly did. I tried to counteract this by having bananas, graham crackers, and other healthy things I could snack on instead of sticking my head in a birthday cake like I seemed to want.

No lie – it’s a painful process, but this did really help make it easier. Also, at a certain point, when I was down the below the normal starter dose, I just ripped off the bandaid and went to zero. At that point, it felt like each taper was just prolonging the suffering. Don’t just go cold turkey from your current dose, though, as that can be dangerous. Also, don’t add any supplements or substitutes for the SSRI without talking to your doctor first (also dangerous).

And of course, watch for the return of depression / anxiety type symptoms. For a while it was hard to tell whether I was tired because of the change in meds or because my depression was returning. I figured as long as I felt okay enough to function and wasn’t thinking about being harmful to myself or anyone else, I could play it out and see. It turned out to be the meds and on the other side, I can see that I was more worried about it than I needed to be.

I wish you the best of luck and a healthy life.

Mardee

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The same thing is happening to me, @kiracaseallan, and it's torture. I'm sitting here at work trying not to cry (for no reason!) and my skin feels so cold and tingly.
Hoping by now it's worked out better for you.

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Wow, my hat is off to all of you. Good job everyone. We have strength when we stick together. Read, read, read. Gather that one tip that can help YOU cuz we are all different.
Phone still broke. Reading everyone's emails. Should be able to be back totally when my new SIM card comes.
Weird things happening here with me. Sleep is really disrupted. Trying to get my life back, however I continue to live in joy.
They killed a rattler here today. DONT LIKE SNAKES! Posting before I lose my service again.

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Someone Google how to increase endorphins in brain. Post the link here. Use those tips.
Things to not do…
Do not: Drop your chin if feeling bad. Dumps bad chemicals in brain.
Actively seek good chemicals by looking at ceilling and (saying out loud works best…mumble if you have to(. I see the crack in the corner of ceiling. I see the dust..I see the light I see the fan, keep looking up! Keep finding new things and saying what you see. IT WORKS
Bright wings

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I was on 25 mg, 1 x day Effexor for 18 years for hot flashes and decided to taper off this Spring as I figured the hot flashes wouldn't happen any more. I tapered off slowly by cutting my pills down by 1/4, or less each time and staying on that dose for two weeks at least (these were solid, uncoated tablets, not capsules with beads). I took the final dose 4/14/18. I was fine for six weeks after that, then started experiencing akathisia (restlessness, pacing and rocking), anxiety, fear and insomnia. After reading others' stories here and elsewhere online, I thought I need to rebalance my brain chemistry–what the Effexor did, or didn't do was no longer happening. I am taking 4-5 times per day (usually 4 to 5 hours apart, depending on how late I stay up): 3 1,000 mg fish oil capsules (EPA 650 mg), 1 500 mg L*dtke brand l-tryptophan (this made such a difference to the agitation I was feeling!), 2 500 mg Solg*r brand GABA, 1 500 mg l-arginine, 1 470 mg ashwagandha root extract capsule and 5 100 mg B6 tablets. Dram*mine (for vertigo) and Ben*dryl (sleep aid) as needed (although I am going to sleep easily now and not using it). My oncologist who prescribed the Effexor many years ago prescribed 15 5 mg diazepam to take as needed when the akathisia and/or anxiety got too bad. In the past 45 days since filling that prescription, I've only used 4.5 tablets (taking 1/2 tablet now and then). I will keep up this regimen for another 45 days and then try tapering to 3-4 times per day, 1-2 times per day, etc. Good news–Since going off the Effexor, my eye prescription has improved by 1/2 diopter and my blood pressure (which was normal) has gone down some.

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@brightwings

@lilgem71
Google thc tincture.
Order it.
Make your own edibles.
Enjoy, Bright Wings

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Hi all,
As you all know, what works for one person may not work for another. For this reason, I’d like to quote guideline #1 from Connect’s Community Guidelines as a gentle reminder for everyone:
“1. Be careful about giving out medical advice
– Sharing your own experience is fine, but don't tell other members what they should do.”

See the all 10 guidelines here:
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/page/about-connect/tab/community-guidelines/

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